Altarum released its monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators reports today, noting a “history making” ongoing stretch of economy-wide prices growing faster than health care prices. Hospitals led the way in March.
The pricing report found annual year-over-year health care price growth of only 1.2 percent in March 2019, its lowest growth rate since September 2017. Year-over-year hospital price growth also fell to its lowest point since September of 2017, falling from 1.9% in February to 1.6% in March of this year. Private pay hospital price growth “fell sharply” from 2.8 percent in February to 1.7 percent in March.
Altarum wonders if “the phenomenon of economy-wide prices growing more quickly than the HCPI (health care pricing index) for 19 months and counting” is indeed a “new normal.”
Regarding spending, Altarum noted that over the past 12 months, expenditures for hospital care grew 2.9% in January 2019, the slowest rate among the major categories, and a key reason why overall national health spending slowed to 4.1 percent – the 16th consecutive month health spending grew less than GDP.